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Law360 (April 3, 2020, 3:34 PM EDT) --
As so many of us have been forced to isolate and much of the world is on a temporary shutdown, we will be depending on social media more than ever to connect with others, and using online resources to conduct business and network.
Pandemic or not, LinkedIn is the most important social media channel for professionals in any field. While we need to be physically apart at this time, we should not be social media distancing. In fact, we should be leaning into social media and using it to enhance our relationships both personally and professionally. It's exactly the social glue we need right now.
Content marketing and sharing content via email and social media has never been a more important way to communicate with clients, colleagues, referral sources, recruits and alumni while we are unable to see each other in person. Your goal should be to build stronger relationships and help others through value-added content during this stressful time.
While you should be completely sensitive to current market conditions and create content relevant to what's happening in the world right now (such as creating coronavirus-related thought leadership and webinars), this is not the time to disappear from your clients — or to suspend your marketing activities. In fact, this is the time to lean in and position yourself as a leader and authority in your respective area of the law.
There are so many things you can do right now to help guide your clients through the coronavirus outbreak using social media and content. Here are some ideas.
How to Effectively Use LinkedIn
- Complete all areas of your profile, including the headline, summary, contact information, friendly custom URL, past experience and education sections. This will enable you to reach "All Star Status." Your headline is key because it gets pulled into Google and LinkedIn search results. If you don't optimize it, LinkedIn will automatically pull in your job title and company. Make sure to upload a professional profile photo and a cover image for more engagement.
- Reuse and repurpose. Each piece of content can be turned into multiple LinkedIn posts by pulling out quotes or statistics. Build an editorial/content calendar to track your posts.
- Share articles from third-party sources, but read the content thoroughly before you do so to ensure the subject matter aligns with your values and your clients' interests. Never post anything of a political nature; it's just not worth it.
- Always think "show versus tell" — show readers how issues impact their business. Every practice area and industry group can find ways to tie in the coronavirus to what they do. With everything you do, step into your clients' shoes: What are their pain points? What is keeping them up at night? Create content and social media posts about those issues in their language and don't sit on it — time is of the essence.
- Promote your good works by highlighting pro bono, volunteer and community service initiatives related to the coronavirus on LinkedIn. If you aren't doing this now as a firm, start today — it's just the right thing to do.
- Train your employees on how to use LinkedIn to tap into their valuable contacts, which are likely not following your firm's company page. Offer virtual LinkedIn trainings and LinkedIn profile audits remotely.
- Effectively use hashtags with each LinkedIn post to make your content more discoverable. Use online tools such as RiteTag and Hashtagify to find relevant hashtags that align to your topic.
- Try a mix of mediums to engage with your target audiences (video, written content, podcasts, etc.). Your videos and podcasts do not need to be professionally done anymore, in fact, the more low-key approach of doing them with your mobile device or computer is the new norm and makes you more relatable.
- Share an update from your LinkedIn homepage. All you need to do is copy the link to an article and hit "Share." What types of content should you share? Articles and blog posts you author, articles written by other attorneys at your firm, general business or economics articles on the the coronavirus or industry shifts. Regularly follow up with important contacts by sending them this type of content with a personal note.
- You can build stronger relationships by posting content about others in your network (and tagging them in the posts). Taking the time to like, comment or share on important connections' posts helps to build relationships and keeps you top of mind.
- Visual content greatly outperforms posts with just text on every social media platform. So use imagery to accompany each of your social media posts such as headshots or practice images, or use a site like canva.com to create free custom graphics. Avoid posting the COVID-19 cell structure in your images — it is widely used and it can cause some people to have a negative visceral reaction to it.
Actively Cultivate Your Network
While quality is always better than quantity, most individuals can increase the number of connections they have on LinkedIn. Here are some ideas on how to create a strategic connections plan to find contacts and maximize your network:
- Join the LinkedIn alumni groups of your former firms and educational institutions. When you make new connections through these channels, send personalized notes to key contacts asking how they're doing. This will renew relationships.
- Utilize the "People You May Know" feature. The more you use it, the more targeted future connection suggestions will be.
- Email blasts will always be a powerful way to reach business professionals if your contact data is up to date, so take the time to reconcile your LinkedIn contacts with your email address book and customer relationship management system to ensure they still receive client alerts and invites.
- Beware of LinkedIn's mass "Import Your Contacts" feature and don't click on the prompts to upload your address book or send a LinkedIn invite to your Outlook contacts. You can wind up inviting every single person in your contact list from the history of time.
- The lines between our personal and professional lives become blurrier by the day as many of us want to be more connected to people in general. This may result in you receiving friend requests on Facebook and follow requests on Instagram from colleagues and clients — it's up to you how you want to handle these, but please always exercise caution with what you post on any social media platform, and stay away from discussing politics and religion.
Putting It All Together
LinkedIn can greatly help you reinforce and build relationships, especially now as we must socially distance.
That being said, this is not the time to stop marketing yourself or your firm. In fact, you want to be top of mind, and you can easily do that through the many online channels available to us with LinkedIn being the most powerful social platform to build professional relationships.
Stefanie Marrone is a marketing consultant and previously worked at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, Morrison & Foerster LLP, Proskauer Rose LLP and Mayer Brown LLP.
The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.
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